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Should Gamers Ditch the Switch?


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Nintendo has been a household name in the modern world since the success of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1983. Although Nintendo started as a trading card company in 1889, their venture into gaming in the late 80’s is what made them such a huge company today. The Japanese company has created a legacy of fun and innovation within the gaming world releasing many classic consoles such as the Nintendo 64 and the GameCube. Even as recently as 2006, Nintendo was the king of the hill in a crowded market of gaming peripherals, having found a successful niche with the Nintendo Wii home console and its inventive motion controls. Families enjoyed engaging in all sorts of fun activities such as bowling, boxing, and tennis using a motion tracking remote. Things turned sour for the company in 2012, when the Wii U, successor to Nintendo’s Wii console, bombed financially. Gamers were eagerly anticipating Nintendo’s answer to the Wii U’s failure, to bring back the glory days of the Wii. The Nintendo Switch was announced back on October 20, 2016, and released on March 3rd, 2017. The pitch was a console that could be docked into your TV but could also be quickly un-docked, transforming into a handheld device for seamless gaming on the go with a battery life of three hours. Initial response was positive, with major game publisher Ubisoft saying in a statement “We have big expectations for the innovative Nintendo Switch.” Now that the Nintendo Switch is here, we can provide a more accurate reading of its staying power. Does the Nintendo Switch live up to the hype?

The hardware on the Nintendo Switch is, as per usual with Nintendo, behind the times. It is only capable of outputting 720p resolution, which has been an outdated milestone for home consoles since the Xbox 360 and PS3 era of the late 2000’s. Surely the Switch has some redeeming factor to make up for its lack of power then, right? Unfortunately, the public’s general consensus on the starting game lineup for the Nintendo Switch is that it is very sparse. The flagship title for the console at release, Zelda: Breath of the Wild, has received near perfect reviews across the board, but many see it as the only game worth purchasing out of the current lineup. Some are content to pay $400 to $500 for what is being considered a “Zelda machine”, but many gamers were not thrilled with the weak selection.

In addition to the lack of power and games, many users have been experiencing a myriad of technical issues with their Nintendo Switch. Issues include but are not limited to: loud crashes, errors, crashed blue/orange screens, dead pixels (blank or blotched spots on the LED screen), cartridges the Switch fails to recognize, loose or unresponsive controllers, and perceived design flaws. For example, the dock that you use to plug your Switch into your TV can scratch the handheld device after very minimal use, according to some reports. Another bizarre design choice is the location of the charging port in the handheld device. A kickstand on the back of the handheld version of the Switch allows you to play with the handheld device on a flat surface such as a table, but due to the charging port being underneath the screen, you cannot charge your Switch and play with it on a flat surface at the same time.

Nintendo has responded to the criticism of the hardware’s reliability, but once again, gamers were less than thrilled. Nintendo asserted in their statement that issues with dead pixels are “normal and should not be considered a defect”, according to a short statement the company released on their website. The company also commented on the issues some users have been having with controller unresponsiveness, strangely advising that these issues can be caused by playing near microwaves or aquariums, of all things.

Nintendo claims that the Nintendo Switch is the fastest selling console in the company’s history, although UK analysts suggest that while it sold more than the Wii, it failed to surpass the sales of the Nintendo 3DS handheld console. The console fared far better in Nintendo’s native country of Japan, where it sold 330,000 units in its first weekend. Nintendo reports the Switch has sold 1.5 million units worldwide during its first week. Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has also seen major success, with Nintendo calling it the best-selling Zelda game ever.

All in all, the Switch has had a bumpy launch, but more games such as Mario Kart 8 and Mario Odyssey, coupled with the already released Legend of Zelda mean that it could be a powerful contender in the gaming platform world by the end of the year. Nintendo has also promised to roll out an online service for the Switch with amenities such as Netflix and Amazon Video included. In a recent interview at gaming expo PAX East, Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime said, concerning the future of Nintendo Switch games such as Super Smash Bros, “You can anticipate at some point in the future… that all of our franchises will be addressed. We know our fans love these games!”

The future is optimistic, but only time will tell if Nintendo will capitalize on all the potential of the Nintendo Switch’s upcoming games and features.

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Should Gamers Ditch the Switch?